S. Janaki

Date of Birth: April 23, 1938
Major awards, Kerala State Film Awards, National awards
Years Active:
S. Janaki
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Born April 23, 1938 (1938-04-23) (age 72)
Nellore, Madras Presidency, British India
Playback singing, Indian classical
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1957-present

S. Janaki (Telugu: ఎస్. జానకి, Tamil: Kannada: ಎಸ್. ಜಾನಕಿ, Malayalam: എസ്. ജാനകി; born April 23, 1938) is an Indian female playback singer. She is a Telugu by birth but has gained popularity in the whole of South India. She is renowned for her voice modulation abilities and is popularly referred to as the "melody queen of South India".citation needed She has sung in many Indian languages, most frequently in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Hindi.1 Janaki is also an occasional lyricist and composer.

Within a career of more than five decades, she has sung over 20,000 songs and has won four National Film Awards and 31 different State Film Awards.2 Her collaborations with singer S. P. Balasubramanyam and composer Ilaiyaraaja are among the most popular musical combinations in South India.3

Early life

S. Janaki was born into a Telugu Brahmin family in Pallapatla, Repalle village, in Guntur, Madras Presidency, now part of Andhra Pradesh state.4

She was interested in music from early age and started performing at the age of three. She learned music from Sree Paidiswamy, a nadaswaram vidwan

Singing career

Janaki started singing at the age of 19.5 She later moved to Chennai on the advice of her uncle Chandrashekar and joined AVM Studios as a singer. She started her career in movies by singing songs composed by T. Chalapati Rao in the Tamil movie Vidhiyin Vilayattu in 1957. Subsequently, she performed in the Telugu movie MLA. Janaki went on to become one of the most favourite singers of Ilayaraja, and a phase ensued when she sang at least 2 to 3 songs per movie in all the four South Indian languages. She sang in almost every major South Indian movie in the 1980s and 1990s.citation needed

She also wrote many songs for Tamil and Telugu movies. She has also sung in Hindi, Sinhalese, Bengali, Oriya, English, Sanskrit, Konkani, Tulu, Saurashtra, Baduga, Japanese and German.6

A devotee of Lord Krishna and Shirdi Sai Baba, she has also recorded Hindu devotional music on Meera.6

Her contemporaries include Ghantasala, Rajkumar, P. Susheela, Vani Jayaram, K J Yesudas, L R Eeswari, P. Jayachandran, P. Leela, K. S. Chithra, Swarnalatha, Sujatha, Jency, P B Srinivas and S P Balasubramanyam.

Personal life

S. Janaki married V. Ramprasad. She is now settled in Chennai. She lives with her son Murali Krishna, who acted in a few films and has an audio business of his own, and his wife Uma Murali Krishna, a classical dancer (Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi); they have two daughters named Amruthavarshini and Apsara.

She is also a close relative of Carnatic classical vocalist Garimella Balakrishna Prasad.7

Major awards

* 1956: 2nd prize in competitions held by All India Radio (AIR) from the former President of India Rajendra Prasad
* 1986: Kalai Mamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu
* 1987: Sur Singar award
* 2002: Cinema 'Achiever Award' from the Government of Kerala
* 2005: Special Jury Swaralaya Yesudas Award for outstanding performance in music

* National Film Awards 4 times for Best Playback Singer from the Government of India
* State Film awards 11 times for Best Playback Singer from the Government of Kerala
* State Film awards 7 times for Best Playback Singer from the Government of Tamil Nadu
* State Film awards 13 times for Best Playback Singer from the Government of Andhra Pradesh
* State Film awards 4 times for Best Playback Singer from the Government of Karnataka
* 2009: honorary doctorate from the University of Mysore for her contributions to Kannada playback singing

Kerala State Film Awards:

* 1970 - Best Playback Singer
* 1972 - Best Playback Singer
* 1974 - Best Playback Singer
* 1976 - Best Playback Singer - Aalinganam
* 1977 - Best Playback Singer - Madanolsavam
* 1979 - Best Playback Singer - Thakara
* 1980 - Best Playback Singer - Manjil Verinja Pookal, Aniyatha Valakal, Chamaram
* 1981 - Best Playback Singer - Various films
* 1982 - Best Playback Singer - Various films
* 1983 - Best Playback Singer - Various films
* 1984 - Best Playback Singer - Kanamarayathu


* She has won the Tamil Nadu state award more times than any other female singer.
* She has won the Andhra Pradesh (Nandi) Awards for Best Singer more times than any other female singer.
* She is the only female singer to receive National Awards from three south Indian languages: Telugu, Malayalam, and Tamil.

National awards

* 1976: 16 Vayadhinile (Tamil), "Senthoora Poove"
* 1981: Oppol (Malayalam), "Ettumanoorambalathil"
* 1984: Sithara (Telugu), "Vennello godari andham"
* 1992: Devar Magan (Tamil), "Inji Idippazagha"